Connecticut State Police Major William Podgorski dies after brief illness
By Mercy A. Quaye, New Haven Register
POSTED: 06/17/14, 1:01 PM EDT | UPDATED: 3 DAYS AGO 7 COMMENTS
NEW HAVEN >> State police Maj. William Podgorski, a 24-year veteran of the department, has died after suffering from a brief illness.
Trooper Kelly Grant said Podgorski, 49, the Western District commander, died Monday after surgery. The illness was not disclosed.
Sometime after surgery on Friday, Podgorski was transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital from another hospital, Grant said. He died there Monday morning surrounded by his family.
The Farmington resident is survived by his wife and three children.
Podgorski led the Western District, which includes Troop A in Southbury, Troop B in Canaan, Troop G in Bridgeport and Troop L in Bantam.
“Speaking on behalf of all the troopers in Litchfield, we’re all devastated,” said Lt. Stavros Mellekas, the Troop L commander. “He was a great guy, nice guy, family man. All the guys are really upset.”
Podgorski previously worked as the commander of the state crime lab and oversaw the Western District Traffic Unit.
In 2006, Podgorski, then a lieutenant, earned a Lifesaving Award from the department after saving a young woman who crashed her car in New Britain.
The woman had crashed her car into a median, with the impact of the crash causing a beam to penetrate the car, severing her leg.
The department said Podgorski came upon the crash and realized the severity of the injury and that he needed to stop the bleeding. Podgorski got a bungee cord from his vehicle and used it as a tourniquet, slowing the blood loss. The woman was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Paramedics and emergency room physicians said she would have died if Podgorski hadn’t stopped the bleeding.
Podgorski also received a second Lifesaving Award and two Outstanding Service Awards, but details of how he earned those weren’t immediately available.
“His career was both varied and extraordinarily accomplished,” said Commissioner Dora B. Schriro, of the Department of Emergency Service and Public Protection in a letter to employees Monday.
“Many of us have had the privilege to work with Major Podgorski during his distinguished career and as such, we are all deeply saddened by the passing of such an impactful public servant,” Schriro wrote. “His reputation exceeded the bounds of this agency and touched so many of us in Connecticut’s law enforcement community and in state government.”
Podgorski joined the Connecticut State Police on Nov. 3, 1989, as a member of the 100th Training Troop, Schriro said. During his career he served as a field trooper out of Troop G in Westport, Troop A in Southbury, the Governor’s Security Unit, the Western District Traffic Squad, the Office of Field Operations and the Central District Traffic Squad.
He was promoted to sergeant in 1999 and served in the Central District Traffic Squad, Troop G, the Western District Traffic Squad and the Office of Field Operations.
In 2008 he was promoted to major. He worked in the Division of Homeland Security, on the Commissioner’s Staff, in the Division of Scientific Services and most recently as the commanding officer of Western District Headquarters.
“At times such as we encounter today, mere words cannot convey our sorrow, or the size of this loss to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, to the State of Connecticut, and, most importantly, the Podgorski family,” Schriro wrote in her letter.
Schriro said in recognition of Podgorski’s service to the department, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has instructed that state flags at all DESPP facilities are to be lowered to half-staff, effective immediately, until sunset on the day of his internment.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.
HE SERVED AS THE LEAD SANDY HOOK INVESTIGATOR.